Text of The Future of Food 2015-2030 Four scenarios examining possible futures of the food system in South...
The Future of Food 2015-2030 Four scenarios examining possible futures of the food system in South Africa
Developing the Transformative Scenarios These four scenarios seek to tell a connected set of stories about what the food system in South Africa might look like by 2030
Why were the scenarios created? The four scenarios called Transformative Scenarios were created to prompt a more coherent conversation about an effective food system for South Africa. The scenarios help to identify the choices organisations and individuals can make now, to adapt to anticipated challenges or to shape, together, the future of food in South Africa.
What are Transformative Scenarios? Transformative Scenarios are: about what could happen in the future, not about what will happen (forecasts) or what should happen (policy recommendations). created by a multi-stakeholder group of actors whose assumptions about current realities and future possibilities are likely to differ. What they produce together is enriched by their debates. designed to be relevant, plausible and clear, and responsive to current trends. But they are also challenging, a work of imagination to stretch current thinking. intended to stimulate dialogue about what could be done differently, both to adapt to an uncertain future and to transform it.
The Team The scenarios were developed by a team of about 50 unlikely allies from across the South African food industry, government, civil society and academia, including: The project was convened by the Southern Africa Food Lab (SAFL) in partnership with Stellenbosch University, WWF and the Ford Foundation. The exercise was facilitated by Reos in late 2014. DAFF AgriSA Massmart Oxfam National Treasury Pioneer Foods Co-operative and Policy Alternative Centre WWF Dept of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Tongaat Hullett Section 27 SANBI Business Leadership South Africa Ford Foundation Ernst & Young Wits Pegasys Pretoria University Department of Health Senwes
What do we mean by the food system? The food system includes all the components involved in production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste. A sustainable food system takes into consideration environmental, social and economic impacts and provides nutritious food for all. It includes: Inputs, mechanisms, and structures for the production (land, water, crops, marine stocks), processing, distribution, access, preparation, consumption, metabolism and waste of food. Participants in the food system, including producers, fishers, industries, labour, governments, purchasers (retailers and buyers, brands, manufacturers, traders), communities and consumers. Social issues inherent in food equity, food justice and food sovereignty, and political and spatial considerations on local, regional, national and global levels.
Starting point the burning questions How will we feed a growing and (mostly) urban population? How will we produce, especially in the light of limited natural resources? Who will produce food and with what support? How will climate change impact on agriculture? How will land reform play out? How will the value chain function in future and what will it look like? How will we regulate food? What is the appropriate balance between government intervention and market mechanisms? What will people be eating in the future? Can we change peoples consciousness about nutrition?
Four connected stories Our Possible Futures These scenarios, considered together, offer different ways of thinking about the wider food system
Food as a natural resource Scenario 1: Root of the matter? Food production Scenario 2: Seeds of possibility? Food in the political economy Scenario 3: Kernels of truth? Food as nutrition Scenario 4: Empty husks?
Food as a natural resource Scenario 1: Root of the matter?
Basis for this scenario Question: What effects will climate variability and water supply have on food in South Africa? What if a severe dry-weather cycle makes the natural system upon which food production depends even more vulnerable? Food is examined as a product of nature This scenario is driven by climate change, a crisis in water quality and quantity, and energy insecurity Food as a natural resource Scenario 1: Root of the matter?
What happens by 2030? A crisis in water quality and quantity coincides with a crisis in energy supply, setting in motion a ripple effect through interconnected ecological and social systems. Soils have been depleted, there is limited viable arable land, irrigation demand is growing and municipal infrastructure is ageing. Poverty, inequality, high unemployment rates and household food insecurity form the social backdrop to this scenario. As a result of many of these factors, South Africas river systems take strain, which in turn impacts on agriculture. The onset of a severe dry-weather cycle in the north of the country makes matters worse. Commercial farmers invest in specific infrastructure and technology to try and mitigate the effects of climate change. Food as a natural resource Scenario 1: Root of the matter?
What happens by 2030?...continued Although most large-scale farmers survive the dry weather, subsistence and small-scale farmers are not so lucky. There is a widening gap between those who have the resources to adapt to a changing climate, and its impact on food prices worldwide, and those who do not. But the dry weather takes its toll: there are job losses in the agricultural sector and overall productivity declines. South Africa increasingly looks towards its northern neighbours to supplement its food supply. Meanwhile, the government has decided to address energy insecurity and carbon emission levels by building a fleet of nuclear power stations, procuring from Russia at a cost that proves hard to contain. There is new evidence of soil degradation, despite evidence that conservation farming is renewing soil fertility where it is being practised. By 2030 South Africa is a hotter, more unequal country than it was in 2015, with a more vulnerable natural resource base for agriculture. Food as a natural resource Scenario 1: Root of the matter?
What happens to the food system as a result? The quality of export crops is compromised by poor water quality. Job losses occur in agriculture. Endangered honeybee species threaten crop pollination. State expenditure on food is diverted to nuclear infrastructure. Crop yields decrease. Global drought pushes up the prices of staple foods. Air quality problems damage crops. Food as a natural resource Scenario 1: Root of the matter?
How do stakeholders respond? Commercial farmers increase their investment in biotechnology. Water use increases, as do water restrictions. There is close policing of water-use licences. Conservation farming gears up. Grants for and investments in climate mitigating infrastructure and technology increase. Strategy focuses on food sourcing from other countries in the southern African region. Food as a natural resource Scenario 1: Root of the matter?
Summary of Scenario 1: Food as a natural resource Scenario 1: Root of the matter? Issue Capacity of the natural resource base to sustain food production Vulnerability Water quality and quantity Threats Soil infertility, energy insecurity and a warmer climate Catalytic events Dry-weather cycle, decision to open nuclear tendering process Impact The capacity of the natural resource base to sustain sufficient food production is threatened Focus Natural resources dimension
Food production Scenario 2: Seeds of possibility?
Basis for this scenario Question: What happens to food production in an unequal and polarised society? What if land reform does not move fast enough, resulting in land invasions Food is examined as a product of farming This scenario is driven by land ownership pressures, climate variability and currency volatility Food production Scenario 2: Seeds of possibility?
What happens by 2030? Farmers both large and small are under pressure, operating in tough economic conditions that are made worse by the uncertainties brought about by climate change and land reform. Commercial farmers are able to continue producing under these conditions because they can consolidate and invest in infrastructure and biotechnology such as GMO crops. The majority of small-scale farmers are in survival mode, dependent on government extension services and social grants. The gap between commercial and small-scale farmers continues to widen. The game-changer in this situation is land reform. Will restitution and redistribution succeed in the meaningful transfer of land to black farmers who have ambitions of commercial success, and provide them with the necessary support? Food production Scenario 2: Seeds of possibility?
What happens by 2030?...continued There is growing frustration about continued socio-economic inequality and the slow pace of change. This expresses itself most forcibly in land invasions after 2020. Rising tensions related to land unleash a series of events that increase unemployment and food insecurity. These even